Our Story

Our work first began in 2013 when our founder, Neelam Hussain, began offering workshops to school groups and students on Islamic history and the influence of Arabic literature on medieval European literature and scholarship. Over time, the range of workshops extended to include workshops on coins, literature and arts of the Islamic world. After she became curator of the Mingana Collection of Middle Eastern Manuscripts at the Cadbury Research Library, University of Birmingham (in 2016), she began working closely with community groups, students, local artists and young families to understand how to better engage Birmingham’s Muslim communities with cultural collections, explore their interests and identify barriers to accessing art spaces.

By 2017 it became clear that there was a clear disparity between the interests and demands for more arts and cultural programming from Birmingham’s Muslims and their engagement with mainstream arts organisations.

MIAH Foundation
Muslims DO want to engage in the arts and cultural sector but too often arts programmes ignore their interests, do not engage communities on sensitive or practical terms, or the delivery is too patchy to sustain long-term engagement. Radical solutions are what is needed; and so, the early plans for the MIAH Foundation were laid out by the end of 2018. First, Neelam and Hanan worked with students, the Cadbury Research Library and the University of Birmingham’s Guild of Students to establish an Islamic Arts & Heritage Society as a first step towards meeting the demands and interests of young people and providing a platform for students to explore an arts programme of their own choosing - with support when needed. Next, they worked with the Islamic Arts Society, researchers, local artists and families to hold an open-mic poetry evening above El-Bader restaurant in Sparkbrook, where we discussed our proposals and listened to ideas. We were met with overwhelming support from everyone present – even the restaurant gave us a discount when they heard our plans!
In the summer of 2020, Neelam, Hanan and Amna launched a successful Crowdfunder to raise the money needed to establish as a charity and begin working towards our goals. We exceeded our initial fundraising target within a few weeks, which meant that we could begin the process of formally creating our charitable objectives and establish as an organisation, applying for recognition as a charity and applying to arts organisations to fund our initial projects. We also began work researching and working towards a designing a website that will not only document our work and help us to raise funds for our museum but will also serve as a digital platform for the types of galleries and space for critical thinking that we intend to create when we build our museum.
Heemy Green Heart
LaunchGood Campaign
The ongoing delays and uncertainties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic meant it took a little longer than hoped to navigate the process of setting up a charity and plan the programme of activities to accompany our launch whilst completing previous projects. However, in the summer of 2022 we launched our website and were pleased to announce that our two inaugural projects were going to be funded by The Barakat Trust, Cadbury Research Library and the British Arab Centre. We look forward to many future collaborations with partners that share our values and interests.